Upcoming Book Reveals The Irish Potato Famine Was A Genocide
By Mike Morley & Prof. Francis Boyle
03 January, 2012
I visited iBAM! November 12 and had the great fortune to meet an old friend, world renowned legal expert, Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, and to talk with him about his new book United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.
Francis, tell us a bit about your new book:
“Mike, as you know, the two leading issues going on now are a United Ireland and the Potato Famine. And I decided to bring this book out now to address both those issues.
I have a chapter in here in which I design a united Ireland; what it should look like and how to do it. As you know, Sinn Fein has said the British government and the Irish government should produce a white paper on united Ireland. With all due respect, I don’t think the two governments are going to do it. I think they are the problem and not the solution. So I decided to take the bull by the horns myself and do a preliminary vision of what a united Ireland would look like. As for the Potato Famine, the second big issue, I’ve attempted to develop for the first time ever the legal case for why the Potato Famine was, in fact and in law, British genocide against the Irish.
The historians who addressed this matter before were of course excellent: Woodham- Smith and Christine Kinealy, but they did not express a legal opinion, because their training obviously is not in the law. Well, I’m a professor of international law and have actually argued genocide at the International Court of Justice in the Hague where I won two World Court orders for Bosnia on the basis of the Genocide Convention. And indeed then, acting pursuant to my advice, President Izetbegovićof Bosnia instructed me to
sue Britain for aiding and abetting genocide against Bosnia. So as of now I’m the only lawyer in the world with actual experience of trying to sue Britain for genocide. So I
thought the time had come, after me doing all this work for the Bosnians, for me to set forth the case as to why Britain fully intended to commit genocide against the Irish. And I have 40 pages in here developing that argument.”
(Note: Prof. Boyle sued Britain on behalf of Bosnia after they embargoed arms shipments intended to provide the Bosnians protection against ongoing genocide. But then Bosnian foreign minister, Ljubijankic, was told that if his government was to continue with the lawsuit, the humanitarian assistance to the Bosnian people would be cut. Britain also threatened to withdraw its Coldstream Guards.)
You developed the case for Bosnia. How is that similar to British actions in “The Famine”?
“I took that same expertise developed there and applied it to the British genocide against the Irish over the Potato Famine. The facts are not in dispute: that they starved to
death one million Irish and forced another two million to leave Ireland. The critical point here is the intent by Britain to exterminate Irish. Now historically they have always argued, and even today they have argued that they did not have the intent to eliminate Irish; that in fact this was simply a case of laissez-faire economics gone awry. And what I do here is go back through the historical archives and pull out all the statements where the highest level officials of the British government at that time, from Russell, the Prime Minister, on down, and I list them all here by name and office and statements—prove, state specifically, that they intended to reduce and eliminate the number of Irish living in Ireland, either because they were Irish or because they were Catholic, or both.”
Was it very hard finding these records?
“No, I basically started with the books by Woodham-Smith and Christine Kinealy. They had already done the archival research. I also had two research assistants of my own at the College of Law who went out and did additional work. So, all the sources that I cite here as to the British intent to commit genocide against the Irish are documented from the British archives or the British press, media, at the time. And it’s very important Mike to keep in mind the distinction between motive and intent, which is well recognized under common law that applies both in Britain at the time and here in the United States. They might have said that the motive was laissez faire economics, but the intent clearly was to reduce and eliminate the number of Irish living in Ireland at that time; because basically the British deemed us to be an inferior race of people, pretty much like the idea, philosophy the Nazis had toward the Jewish people… However you want to define it legally, it was definitely genocide as defined by international law… outright genocide. And we, the Irish in Ireland and in America and throughout the Diaspora must understand that, and hold the British government to account for it.”
Professor Boyle also outlines his fascinating vision for a united Ireland in his new book.
So, be a part of that effort, Order a copy of Professor Boyle’s book, United Ireland, Human Rights, And International Law. Give it a good read, and get back to him with your thoughts on his vision for A united Ireland.
See the expanded version of this article at IrishAmericanNews.com (Columns, Mick)
© Mike Morley 2011
Francis A. Boyle
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, Illinois 61820
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